A Brief Review of DineLA Summer 2019

DineLA restaurant week happens two times a year, the first is in summer and the second is in winter. It is one of the many events throughout the year where restaurants get to showcase their menus to new clients tasting their offerings for the first time or regular clients that are familiar with the restaurant. We just concluded the summer DineLA which was running from July 12 – 26. Have no fear if you missed it this summer, the winter DineLA restaurant week will begin on January 17 and run until January 31.

Summer 2019 saw 100 restaurants from around Los Angeles participate. There were restaurants for every budget and every type of occasion. During past DineLA events, we have visited Firefly, Granville, The Front Yard, and Michael’s on Naples. This summer, we visited:

  • Lotus & Light
    Located in the Lakeside Shopping Center
    Address: 345 N Pass Ave, Burbank, CA 91505
    Hours: Daily 11 am – 9 pm
    Phone: (818) 562 – 7777
    Yelp: 4 Stars (272 reviews)

    This was our second visit to Lotus & Light. The first time we visited was for dinner during DineLA Winter 2019 so on our return trip we decided experience the lunch menu. We are happy to report that the lunch menu is just as delicious as the dinner menu. The most significant differences between the two is the lunch menu consists of a 2-course (appetizer/entree) meal with a non-alcoholic beverage included while the dinner menu consists of a 3-course meal (appetizer/entree/dessert) with a glass of wine included. The upside of this is while most restaurants contain carry over between the two menus each has options specific to the time of day. Lotus is home to Matthew’s favorite desert Ca Phe Sua Affogato. It features beignets, vanilla ice cream, and a side of Vietnamese espresso topped with condensed milk (see picture below). A great way to end ours and any meal!
  • Green Street Tavern
    69 W Green St, Pasadena, CA 91105
    Hours: Sunday 11 am – 9 pm; Monday – Thursday 11:30 am – 9 pm; Friday 11:30 am – 10 pm; Saturday 11 am – 10 pm
    Phone: (626) 229 – 9961
    Yelp: 4 Stars (1,273 reviews)

    This was our first dining experience at Green Street Tavern and we knew very little about the restaurant prior to our dinner. Green Street Tavern is a cozy, hole-in-the-wall restaurant compared to other restaurants and bars in the area, but that is part of its charm. One downside is that the cocktails available can only feature wine as a base (i.e., if you’re looking for liquor, this is not the place to go). What they may lack in cocktails is made up for by the food, especially the short ribs which were port wine braised with orzo goat mac and cheese and garlic green beans. Green Street has a well curated beer and wine lists, and the knowledgeable staff will readily assist you in finding the perfect pairing.
  • Charcoal Venice
    Address: 425 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
    Hours: Sunday 10:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5 pm – 10 pm; Monday – Thursday 5:30 pm – 11 pm; Friday 5:30 pm – 12 am; Saturday 10:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5 pm – 10 pm
    Phone: (310) 751 – 6794
    Yelp: 4 Stars (475 reviews)

    We first discovered Charcoal because Andrew attended a Billy Harris hosted charity dinner with the meal prepared by two-star Michelin award-winning Executive Chef Josiah Citrin. Chef de Cuisine Joseph Johnson helms the day to day operations of the kitchen and will be making his own mark on the LA dining scene for many years to come. Charcoal is an upscale family style restaurant where all fare is prepared over open fire. The food is supplemented by an excellent wine and cocktail program. The DineLA menu afforded us the opportunity get a taste of most of the current menu. We do not have a standout this time, because the whole menu harmonizes together so well. We were very pleased with both the options and service during our visit and we highly recommend this location going forward.
  • Wood & Water
    Address: 13359 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
    Hours: Sunday 11 am – 9 pm; Monday 4 pm – 9 pm; Tuesday/Wednesday 4 pm – 10 pm; Thursday – Saturday 4 pm – 11 pm
    Phone: (818) 855 – 1661
    Yelp: 4 Stars (237 reviews)

    This was our first dining experience at Wood and Water. The restaurant is the home to an inventive cocktail program and flavorful menu. The dining space takes advantage of the ambiance of the natural light from a centrally located fireplace. This makes a fun dining experience, but not photo friendly for our purposes. Matthew ordered the duck ragu (pappardelle, fried rosemary, parmesan) and Andrew ordered the pork chop (asian marinade, whole grain dijon mashed potatoes, quick pickled purple cabbage). For cocktails Matthew ordered the Smoke on the Water (house vanilla Woodford Reserve, smoked ice cubes, flamed rosemary, brandied cherry, rosemary simple) and Andrew ordered the New Fashion (Elijah Craig, cinnamon & brandy-marinated cherries, orange bitters, orange twist). The servers we polite, however service in general was slow. Also as a reminder the restaurant is located on Ventura Blvd. so parking can be difficult to find, so plan in advance.

Even though DineLA is over until January, we wanted to pass on our experiences at these restaurants because we had such a great experience at each place we visited. Each restaurant has different price ranges and different options from both the bars and kitchen. This just goes to show that just because it is not the most expensive dinner does not mean you will not have delicious food. When DineLA comes around in January, we recommend looking at the website and seeing if you can find your new favorite Los Angeles culinary delight.

Thanks for reading! Cheers friends!

Meet Andrew and Matthew

Hello! My brother and I want to start off our blog with a bit of an introduction for who we are and what we hope to accomplish with this blog.

To start off, here are some things about us. We are not classically trained in the food or beverage industry in the sense that we have never received any formal training bartending, winemaking, sommelier, or cooking. However, at one point or another one or both of us have discussed an interest in becoming a bartender or sommelier. We are high enthusiasts that love to explore and find new wineries, breweries, bars, distilleries, and restaurants. We love planning trips to wine country and breweries and meeting new friends along the journey.

We know that wine and wine culture can be confusing and intimidating for a lot of people. I know when we both started we were a little reserved and intimidated when it came to talking about wine with other people. As we learned more about it, we became more comfortable having discussions about wine with other people. Talking about wine and our experiences with other people has opened doors, created friendships, and benefited our relationship. Our goal is to help provide people with the information to make them feel more confident with their own wine experiences. But also we want to empower people to try new places and explore all of the different options that we have to eat and drink.

Our Approach to Wine

Our approach to wine is pretty simple. We will taste EVERYTHING. We know that may seem like a strange concept because some of you out there. We know that there are people that only drink reds, only whites, or only certain varietals…which is completely fine if that’s what works for you. Part of you may be thinking to yourself that we are crazy for trying everything which is also fine. And if you don’t think we are crazy just for trying everything, you will probably think we are definitely crazy after reading the next sentence. In addition to trying everything, we are also the weird ones that will not stick to the classic order of going from whites to reds and then from reds to dessert wines. We believe that if you break out of the mold a little, you open yourself up to a whole new world of experiences that may present themselves.

How Food and Wine has Benefited our Relationship

Our food journey started a few days before Christmas one year when my brother and I were sitting at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney. Up to that point, we had very rarely ever done a sit-down dinner with just the two of us. Both of us had been in college, and as many of you know, college budgets usually keep food experiences limited to most fast food chains. But also, as anyone with siblings will attest, our relationship had more rocky moments than moments filled with brotherly love.

We decided that we were going to, for just one night, forget about the cost and just enjoy ourselves. That dinner became an opportunity to reconnect and rebuild our relationship as brothers. This dinner also instilled for us the value of family meals. And by family we mean meals with those people in your life that you value and cherish time with whether that is family or close friends (what we like to call our extended family).

But at this dinner, we decided to make a new tradition. Around Christmas each year we find a time to go to a sit-down restaurant. We made this decision because then at least once a year we would be able to sit-down just the two of us and talk about what was going on in our lives.

How Wine Expanded our Interests

Our interest in wine sparked an interest in cooking in Matthew and rejuvenated the interest for Andrew. The more we learned about wine, the more we became interested in pairing wine with food. The interest in food and wine pairings combined with our love of film led us to attempting to pair a dining and film experience. We wanted to pair a Chef’s Tasting Menu with the film Burnt, starring Bradley Cooper. This led us to Michael’s on Naples in Long Beach, CA. This interest was furthered our interests in other areas of the food and beverage industry such as beer and cocktails.

Our Approach to Drinking Alcohol

We believe that alcohol has the chance to enrich our lives. Mostly this enrichment comes when we find the perfect pairing for a particular wine, beer, or cocktail. However, it can enrich our lives by providing as an icebreaker which can lead to making new connections and friendships. However, alcohol can have devastating effects on life if it is abused as a way to mask emotions or if we do not respect the way it influences our bodies and therefore please drink responsibly.

Thanks for reading! Cheers friends!